First Impression

Preseason games are often sloppy and that was definitely the case tonight in St. Louis. However the fact that Bears walked away with a 13-10 win in overtime, made for an encouraging debut for Lovie Smith.

It took the Bears just 17 seconds into the extra period to seal the victory. A 25-yard game-winning field goal by Paul Edinger was set up by an 87-yard kick return by Ahmad Merritt.

The Bears had two opportunities to win the game during the final minute of regulation. Joe Odom couldn't haul in an interception at the Rams 10-yard line that would have been a walk into the end zone. Then Jamin Elliott had a 50-yard pass from QB Craig Krenzel hit him in the hands after it had been deflected and fell to the ground as the clock struck triple zeros.

Much of the game was marred by penalties on both sides. In total there were 31 penalties for 240 yards. The Bears accounted for 19 of the flags and 160 penalty yards.

On the bright side, the first string offense turned their only possession of the night into three points, but it should have been more. A holding penalty on Mike Gandy, who started in place of Rex Tucker at LG, negated a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to FB Bryan Johnson.

During a 13-play 67-yard drive the unit got called for four penalties, three of which went against the offensive line.

Thomas Jones showed why the Bears went out and signed him in the off-season. He carried the ball seven times for 53 yards, including consecutive gains 17 and 26 yards.

With a running game, Grossman looked relaxed in the pocket completing 4-of-5 passes for 39 yards.

The only possession of the quarter ended with a 31-yard field goal by Paul Edinger capping a drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock.

The Rams quickly answered with a field goal of their own. QB Marc Bulger and WR Isaac Bruce connected on completions of 18 and 24 yards to move St. Louis deep into Bear territory. An illegal contact penalty on Lance Briggs gave the Rams new life after a third down pass from Bulger fell incomplete. A Hunter Hillenmeyer sack of Bulger forced St. Louis to settle for a 33-yard Jeff Wilkins field goal to end the first quarter.

Jonathan Quinn started the second period under center. With a live pass rush he didn't look like the same quarterback that completed 7-of-8 passes against St. Louis on a scrimmage on Saturday. Under consistent pressure, Quinn was sacked three times as Steve Edwards and Qasim Mitchell both had their problems with edge rushers and drawing multiple penalties.

Edwards started at right tackle for John Tait, who sat because of a groin injury. To be fair St. Louis did leave their starting defensive ends for most of the second quarter.

With Chris Chandler at the helm the Rams took the lead toward the end of half thanks in part to another penalty. A 40-yard completion to WR Shaun McDonald was followed by a pass interference call on CB Eric Kelly resulted in a 30 yards walk-off. Two plays later Chandler hit FB Joey Goodspeed for a 13-yard touchdown.

The score remained 10-3 into the fourth quarter. Quinn took the Bears on a 15-play drive to tie the game on a one-yard touchdown pass to TE Gabe Reid. The drive would have ended well short of a score if it wasn't for a defensive holding penalty on rookie CB Dwight Anderson that gave the Bears a first down after a 3rd and 27 pass went incomplete.

Quinn settled down when he had time to throw and finished the game 11-of-16 for 120 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears didn't turn the ball over and forced a fumble and picked off a ball, which kept them in the game outplayed for much of the contest.

Smith will give his team a break from on the practice field Friday, but with the multitude of penalties the film review could be worse.


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